Engineering News

Ian Horswill Honored with University Teaching Award

Seven Northwestern faculty members were recognized for excellence and innovation in the classroom



Seven faculty members including Northwestern Engineering's Ian Horswill will be honored with 2020 University Teaching Awards for outstanding performance and dedication to undergraduate education at Northwestern University. The recipients will accept their awards at a ceremony this fall.

In addition to Horswill, Sarah Jacoby, Wendy Pearlman, and Regan Thomson will each receive a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence Award. Patti Wolter will receive a Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Clinical Professor Award, while Santiago Cañez will receive a Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished Professor of Instruction Award. Henri Lauzière will receive The Alumnae of Northwestern Teaching Professor Award.

Ian Horswill“This years’ McCormick and Alumnae Teaching Award recipients demonstrate passion and commitment to student learning across disciplines, and they serve as models for excellence in teaching across the University,” said Interim Provost Kathleen Hagerty.

The annual teaching award recognizes excellence in classroom teaching and innovative curricular leadership across the University.

“Under the challenging circumstances in which faculty are teaching and students are learning at this time, it is especially valuable to be able to recognize the depth of commitment these seven faculty show towards our undergraduates,” said Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Miriam Sherin. “Not only are they devoted teachers, these faculty serve as mentors, guiding their students through course work and beyond.”

Ian Horswill
Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence

Across his 25 years at Northwestern, Ian Horswill has been a leader for curricular innovation in computer science. Horswill’s approach to teaching rests on the premise that students should understand the communicative nature of programming and see the potential of computer science as a creative discipline. He explains that he views teaching as a kind of archeology, “I find myself working backwards through the history of an idea to recover its intuitions lost in the sediment.” Students confirm his ability to present topics in a clear and concise manner, so material is digestible for students of all experience levels. One student writes, “Professor Horswill structures his lectures such that each new concept connects back to earlier ideas, allowing students to see how topics build on one another and gain a broader viewpoint.”

Horswill is a strong advocate for access to computer science for undergraduates and started the Peer Mentors Program in which undergraduate students are hired through a highly competitive application process to work with and coach their peers. As his chair explains, “The Peer Mentor program enhances our community, creating organic mentorship opportunities for students and allows many more students, who previously may not have felt supported, to thrive in their CS studies.”

Horswill is an associate professor of computer science. He earned both his master’s and PhD in computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About the awards

The Charles Deering McCormick Professorship, Lectureship, and Clinical Professorship Awards have a three-year term and for each year of the award term, the recipients receive $7,000 as a salary supplement and $3,000 for professional development. A one-time $3,000 award also is given to the recipient's home department to support activities that enhance undergraduate education.